Despite the long-held stigma and political pushback from wary municipalities, Knox Medical continues to expand into other Florida cities.
Knox Medical, a Miami-based company that manufactures medical cannabis, plans to open five more retail dispensaries throughout the state in the next eight weeks.
With its 35,000-square-foot greenhouse and lab based in Winter Garden’s Knox Nursery at 940 Avalon Road, the company, led by CEO Jose Hidalgo and COO Bruce Knox, will be opening locations in Orlando, Jacksonville, Lake Worth, Tallahassee and St. Petersburg in the next eight weeks.
The company’s latest storefront, located on 34th Street in Gainesville, just opened its doors on Wednesday, May 17, and Knox said the roughly 2,500-square-foot Orlando dispensary, which will be located at 1901 N. Orange Ave., is slated to open June 2.
The next locations scheduled to open, he added, will be in Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Lake Worth, all of which will operate from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Each dispensary will sell cannabis oils, drops and capsules for medical purposes to qualified patients with a prescription. Currently, the company services close to 1,000 patients who have a variety of illnesses, including cancer, epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, Knox said.
Although the expansion is simply part of the company’s overall growth plan — which Knox said may involve branching out to surrounding states and countries in the future — the decision of where to locate the dispensaries is based on population and politics.
“It’s really also about the jurisdiction and who doesn’t have the zoning moratoriums,” Knox said. “The city of Winter Garden, the town of Windermere, Orange County — they all have moratoriums in place forbidding it, so it’s really about who has crafted reasonable zoning regulations to allow cannabis dispensaries.”
The company has been focusing on changing the common perceptions that Knox suspects might be influencing the decisions of lawmakers.
“The municipalities are afraid of the Colorado or California style, with all the pink buildings or bright-green neon flashing signs that say, ‘Get your whatever here,’” Bruce said. “It has an illicit drug feel but that’s not what’s happening in Florida, and we have to change those perceptions. … What people conjure up in their mind is not what’s happening in Florida. And I think I can speak for all the dispensing organizations here when I say everyone is trying to do it in the most professional manner possible."
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].